The stories of Matt and Jenny offer portraits reflecting how easily our identities can be wounded by painful life experiences. Matt’s story demonstrates how relational loss – combined with the destructive force of bullying – can interrupt a boy’s emerging manhood. Jenny’s story shows how fears about body image can call into question a young woman’s personal worth.
Many will look at their personal histories to assign a cause for same-sex attraction (SSA). To be sure, many who experience SSA do share histories similar to Matt and Jenny. But so do many heterosexual teens. And, some gay teens do not have “a painful story” to tell. I am not focused on Matt and Jenny to guess at the causes of their SSA. I am intrigued by their stories for a different reason.
The Lord has very clearly invaded both of their lives. Christ has given them the assurance and sustenance needed to move forward in life – in the midst of their unmet needs. No one can orchestrate this; command it to come; or earn it. God”s grace comes to us: it is Jesus who saves, rescues, lifts and strengthens. One way He accomplishes this is through Christian community.
I am struck by the powerful impact of Christian community in Matt and Jenny’s lives. Without this nourishing fellowship, Matt lived many years suffering in pain with little support. In fact, he feared the church because he assumed we hated people like him. And he grew up in the church! Jenny knew Christ early in life just like Matt, but she too had a distinct sense of isolation and failure as she hid her struggles.
Christian fellowship can be a powerful tool in the hand of God that deeply touches and transforms us. How, then, might Christian fellowship be used by God to touch the hearts of those who experience SSA? How do we, as Jenny put it, help them “work through it” rather than repress or hide it? How can we help bear the load that they carry? What would it look like to keep the Matts and Jennys of our world in the church rather than propel them out of the church? How might God use the church to turn male and female “identity blockers” into identity builders?
I believe it starts with a nourishing foundation of Christian fellowship. Join me in days ahead as we look at this in detail.
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